I just passed the six-month mark in Texas, and I think I’ve decided I like living here. It took the full six months to come to this conclusion — I’d been vacillating on that one for quite a while — but the idea for this post has been in my head for quite a while. Allie Bailey, a freshman soccer player at Texas A&M, retweeted the link to my last post, adding that she was reading up on what to expect in College Station from a fellow newcomer. Since then, I’ve been brainstorming ways to re-purpose my blog, focusing on my experience as a recent college graduate living down here. The details are still working themselves out, but this is the beginning. I love the Bryan-College Station area, even if it doesn’t always love me back. Here’s why:
It took a while to adjust to the local definition of “friendly.” This isn’t Dallas friendly, and it’s certainly not Kansas friendly. Strangers chat me up at the grocery store, acquaintances hug me, and bartenders call me “sweetheart.” At first I was uncomfortable with this kind of undue familiarity. But I had moved to a city where I didn’t know a soul to take a job involving little conversation, and the first couple of months were rough. On particularly bad days, those inappropriately familiar interactions were welcome reminders that I wasn’t invisible.
I love that the folks at Superior Automotive, who always remember my name, noticed I hadn’t attached my Texas license plates and offered to put them on while I was there. In June, my former roommate’s boyfriend hauled all my furniture to my new place and assembled my bed for free. A bartender at Mad Hatter’s once helped me fix up my car in the parking lot. Several strangers have helped me handle flat tires and dead batteries over the last few months (I have a notoriously problematic car). The hospitality of people here is astounding.
A sports fan always has something to do here. I don’t like baseball at all, but I had a blast watching Texas A&M make it all the way to the College World Series this year. The baseball team’s success translated to more ad sales for The Eagle, and I ended up designing several 7- and 8-page sections by myself. It was my first big challenge at this job. It’s been a great year for A&M — a women’s basketball national championship, two or three track & field national championships, and the football team is ranked No. 8 going into the season — so I came at an exciting time. I was originally looking forward to watching Kansas play basketball at Reed Arena every year, but A&M’s move to the SEC put a damper on that.
Now football season is starting, and I think I’m going to like it. Locals have been talking up Texas football as if the sport doesn’t exist in other states, but so far Friday nights have been manageable. I get to take an extra-long dinner break and we have plenty of help on the sports desk. I’m excited to be busy again because fall is supposed to be hectic.
I haven’t bought a CD in years. I’m not sure I still own any. I also don’t have an iPod, so connecting my iPhone to my car’s stereo isn’t worth it for my daily commute of about five minutes. So I listen to the radio. A lot. It didn’t take long for me to discover the 90s Dance Party on Candy 95. It’s exactly what it sounds like: An hour of 90s music every weekday at noon. Why aren’t more top-40 stations doing this? Or maybe they are and Kansas City stations have missed the memo. I really thought I was the only person who un-ironically listened to boybands, old rap, and Mariah Carey, but it turns out I’m not alone at all. My summer goal was to learn all the words to Snow’s “Informer,” but it’s a little harder than I thought. Now the host, Elizabethany is off to a new gig in Virginia (she explains it all on her blog), but listening to her 90s selections on my way to the gym has been the highlight of almost every day since I showed up here.
Another local station, 98.3 KORA, has me hooked on Texas/red dirt country. You see, Texas is a haven for people who can’t stand the pop-country garbage put out by the Kenny Chesneys and Brad Paisleys of the world, and that’s reason enough to love this state. KORA’s “Texas Nation” segment is especially cool, with a lot of Texas country artists stopping by the studio to play some live songs.
With only a few exceptions, College Station bars are uniquely void of “type.” The crowd at your average night-time establishment is a puzzling (and awesome) mix of people who probably wouldn’t mix in any other situation: hipsters, cowboys, young professionals, greeks, athletes, all united in their desire to drink Shiner on a patio. I suspect it’s the result of Northgate having relatively few bars — quality over quantity, I guess. Whatever the cause, Northgate is a people-watching goldmine. Also, Antonio’s Pizza is way better than Wheel Pizza.